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Give Wisely this Giving Tuesday

By Mechele Agbayani Mills
Nov. 27, 2017 at 8:30 p.m.


From collection kettles to toy drives, the spirit of the holidays means giving to favorite causes and to those less fortunate. American charities receive one-third of their annual donations during the holiday season. Knowing this, many scammers will take advantage of the giving spirit by posing as a legitimate charity to collect your donations in store parking lots, going door-to-door, calling on the phone, email and text message. Better Business Bureau urges donors to research a charity before donating to keep money out of the hands of scammers.

"Giving Tuesday is a reminder to give during a season when much of our focus is on spending', said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas. "When you do give, however, remember to do so with your heart and your head."

BBB offers the following tips to make sure your money gets in the right hands:

• Be sure the group is a charity. Not every group that solicits money is a charity. If you plan to deduct your contribution, make sure your charity is a 501(c)3 organization by going to www.irs.gov and searching the organizations Employee Identification Number (EIN).

• Make sure the charity is accountable. BBB Wise Giving Alliance has published reports on over 9,000 national charities which have been assessed against the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability which can be found at give.org. Local charities that have passed the Standards can be found here. The 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability include a review of governance, solicitation materials, finances and effectiveness. The Standards, developed over a three-year period with input from nonprofit representatives, IRS officials, foundation executives, donors and other stakeholder groups provide an objective means to evaluate a charity's governance and oversight.

• Watch out for "look alike" charities. If a charity sounds familiar and you aren't sure about its identity, contact BBB for a report.

• Just say no. If you are pressured by someone to give over the phone or in person, ask to see written information or simply say no. Never fall prey to high pressure pitches.

• Choose charities that reflect your passions. This is a great time of year to support causes you care about, by supporting them with your dollars and/or your time.

• Support charities that are meeting community needs. In the current difficult economic environment, charities are facing increased needs with limited resources. Look around and see what the needs are and then give to charities that are helping the communities you care about in key ways.

• Be proactive with your giving. Rather than waiting to be solicited, donate by initiating contact with an organization you've verified. For online donations make sure you are giving through a secure site: look for the "https" letters in your browser. Remember, when you give without being asked, you also save the charity money on fundraising costs.

• Give with your family. For parents this can be an especially meaningful and rewarding way to spend time together and to impart strong philanthropic values to children. For tips on how to talk to your children about philanthropy visit BBB's Holiday Helper.

• Give with your friends. Giving circles are popular and create valuable bonding experiences. Like minded individuals often form groups to share information and research about issues and charities.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call BBB at (903)581-5704 or use BBB ScamTracker.

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